Capital One – Maryam Umar, Manager, Software Quality Engineering

We interviewed Maryam Umar, Manager, Software Quality Engineering at Capital One on her experience and thoughts on women in tech

1.What does your job role involve?

I work as a Manager in Software Quality Engineering. My day to day tasks involve participating and contributing in many meetings around project requirements and their refinements. I help design and implement structures which will enable us to reach a complete working product for our witcustomers. I work quite closely with my reports to better understand their challenges. I try to do this so I can mitigate and escalate any issues easily. I also try to stay close to the technologies that are being used.

2. What made you choose a career in technology?

I didn’t exactly choose a career in tech. I ended up here by accident. I am glad the accident worked out in my favour though. I enjoy problem solving and the thought process behind it. A lot of people think that a career in tech is all about engineering mind-sets but it’s a lot about people dynamics as well. Not everyone writes code in the same manner.

3. Did you study an IT or technology related subject at A-Level or University?

I studied Computer Science as a subject since the age of about 12. I have a Bachelors and a Master’s degree in Software Engineering too.

4. Did you get any work experience in IT or technology before this role?

I learnt mostly on the job and with the help of some very able managers.

5. Do you think there is a lack of females in the IT and tech sector?

There are pockets of women in the industry. I was pleasantly surprised at Capital One though. Almost every second team has 1 or 2 female developers/testers etc. Overall, yes there is a lack of women.

6. Do you find there is a stereotype that a career in IT or technology is just for men?

I recently spoke at a school about computer science and a career in the tech industry. The group was mixed in terms of gender and ethnicity. I made sure that I encouraged the students to think twice about a career in tech. it’s not plain-sailing and is quite demanding as a career. I think women naturally tend to select options which suit their lifestyles. Some women are quite driven and have strong problem solving capabilities. They end up in tech quite easily. I have noticed that the problem sometimes lies in the head of the individual and not in the community per say.

7. What would entice women to study technology related courses?

I think the quality engineering remit is as challenging as the others. If you use an app/website and are intrigued by how it plumbs together, you must pursue technology related courses. I have always been a promoter of pursuing what makes you inquisitive.

8. Are there barriers when it comes to women getting into tech?

I don’t think there are any barriers.

9. How could we encourage more women to start a career in tech?

We should openly talk about how inclusive the environment is. How flexible companies are today. And how, by not being ruthless, you can still succeed. I have often found myself to be the only female member in a tech team. I took those situations as a challenge. I quickly realised that my presence usually brought a different perspective to the projects and my team. Empathy goes a long way in our industry. The women who are already here should facilitate other women to join the movement and help make a difference to our customers.

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